The Mobile Technology for Community Health (MOTECH) Platform aids Ghana’s mHealth
The Mobile Technology for Community Health (MOTECH) Platform is an open source software project delivered by Grameen Foundation through funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It enables organizations building mHealth solutions to develop, manage, and monitor those solutions more quickly and cost-effectively with fewer technical resources. It also allows multiple mHealth solutions serving the same population to be deployed in a way that enables data sharing (where appropriate) and a better experience for users of the system.
What is the MOTECH Platform for?
While the MOTECH Platform can be used for many things, it is best-suited for mHealth applications which want to improve health by sending messages to patients and caregivers based on an evaluation of the recommended schedule of care compared to the patient’s health-related actions. Some features of typical MOTECH-based applications are:
- Communicate information to patients via voice or SMS according to a schedule of care defined for the patient’s condition
- Collect data from patients or caregivers
- Alert caregivers of the adherence status of their patients
- Facilitate communication between patients, caregivers, and/or health administrators
Examples of MOTECH-based Solutions
MOTECH Ghana is a mHealth service for pregnant women and their families in rural Ghana built on the MOTECH Platform. It delivers weekly automated voice or SMS messages to the women which contain time-specific information encouraging them to make health-seeking choices such as receiving recommended vaccinations or maintaining proper nutrition. Via the MOTECH Ghana mobile application, Community Health Nurses in Ghana use their mobiles to record the care given to patients and the caregivers receive alerts of patients who are due or overdue for care so they can follow up with them. A detailed overview is available in our Early Lessons Learned in Ghana report and a video is online as well.
Treatment Advice by Mobile Alerts (TAMA) is a MOTECH-based project funded by Johnson & Johnson in India which aims to increase treatment compliance for HIV/AIDS patients taking anti-retroviral drugs. Like the MOTECH Ghana system, TAMA provides reminders to patients and alerts to clinic nurses based on the schedule of care for that patient. For patients, it provides an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system which reminds them to take medication or come to the clinic for an appointment. It also allows patients to use IVR to receive health tips, diagnose symptoms they are experiencing, or request follow-up from a nurse. For the nurses, TAMA provides a web-based UI to record patient interactions and receive alerts on patients who are not adhering to their schedule of care.
What are the components of the MOTECH Platform?
The key components of the MOTECH Platform are:
- Database of patient information
- Schedule of Care that should be followed for patients with particular conditions
- Rules Engine which evaluates and decides which messages should be sent
- Message Queue and Scheduler
- Interfaces to inbound and outbound UI (IVR, SMS, WebUI)
- Interfaces to health verticals (Medical Record Systems, Inventory Systems, etc.)
- The tools to configure or author all of the above
What effort is required to build on the MOTECH Platform?
The goal of the MOTECH Platform is to allow implementers to spend the majority of their effort on the areas where they have domain expertise and minimize the technology investment required to deliver an mHealth solution. MOTECH implementers will, however, still need some technical expertise to configure and customize the platform for their requirements. The major pieces of work needed to develop a custom MOTECH implementation are:
- Create custom content and actions, including the Schedule of Care, Rules, IVR & SMS content, and any forms required on the mobile phones
- Configure the MOTECH system for the specific deployment requirements
- Customize any required connections to external health verticals (e.g., a Medical Record System)
MOTECH Design Principles
The MOTECH Platform is designed to accommodate a wide variety of mHealth solutions. The overarching design principles of the MOTECH Platform include:
- Support low end phones (voice or SMS), smart phones, or web-based UI
- Enable co-located or distributed deployment
- Scalable to millions of users
- Extensible to new data sources or health verticals
- Open Source